Personal assistance (PA) is a key prerequisite for Independent Living. Therefore, it is essential that policy makers, as well as training and commissioning officers, have a clear understanding of the different elements that constitute PA. 

In the past, ENIL has developed and promoted a general definition of PA, but sometimes, a more detailed understanding is needed. One way to explore PA in more detail is to compare it to home care work (CW). 

ENIL recently partnered with researchers and activists from the Independent Living Institute, the Scottish Independent Living Coalition, and the University of Dundee to develop such a comparison. In the resulting document, a PA arrangement of a kind supported by the Independent Living paradigm is compared to traditional CW of a kind usually provided by care agencies to people within their homes. 

The main differences between PA and CW can be shown on a continuum of choice and control, with PA providing the maximum choice and control, and CW the least. We did not consider care work within residential institutions and day care centres – it shares some of the features of home care work, while being even more restrictive of choice and control due to the institutional context of its provision. 

Sometimes, PA incorporates specific elements of CW, which makes it less enabling of choice and control. There are also cases in which CW incorporates elements of PA, which makes it more enabling of choice and control. When PA approximates CW, the Independent Living paradigm of support is undermined. 

There are also instances when a typical CW arrangement is misrepresented as PA, which constitutes a misappropriation of the Independent Living paradigm and terminology. 

You will find the document with the comparison between PA and CW here